Eatery that prepares charter school lunches in danger of losing space

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Each week day Hale Kealoha Hawaiian Food restaurant prepares and delivers about 300 lunches to eight public charter schools in Windward Oahu and Honolulu.

Tammy Smith and her family have been doing it for years. For the last five they've operated out of their Kailua eatery.

"We put our all into this space," she said.

Kealoha's is in the same building as the Pali Lanes bowling alley. Landowner Alexander & Baldwin will redevelop the property, so Smith needs to find another space by the end of the year.

"We are in a rush," she said. "We are busy all year round. We cater school lunches during the breaks for the 'Y' in Kailua. In the summer we support summer schools."

A&B spokesman Darren Pai said the company is working with Smith to find another Kailua location..

"We understand how important Kealoha's is to the community in Kailua. We've had a lot of conversations to try and understand their business --- what it is they do, what kind of space they need, what kind of facilities they need," he said.

One possible location is very close to the restaurant's present home on Hekili Street.

"There is a possibility of moving across the street into one of the warehouse spaces, building it out, and starting from zero again," Smith said.

The space next to NAPA's is about 1,000 square feet smaller than the bowling alley location, so Smith's contemplating closing the restaurant when she moves to focus on catering and the school lunch program.

"It's not just doing school lunches or catering a luau," she said. "We help fund-raise for other people. We're really part of the Kailua community now."

Smith's family invested $180,000 to modernize the bowling alley space when they took it over from the previous tenant. Settling on a new spot will depend on what they can afford.

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